After two years that it shut its land borders due to the spread of the coronavirus in its region, Zimbabwe has recently reopened them and trade can once again begin with its closest neighbours and beyond. The Minister of Information Monica Mutsvangwa who made this announcement explained that there has been a decline in the cases of infection of the virus in the country and its region. Visitors are allowed to enter the country through any of its land borders with Botswana, South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique- on the condition of a negative PCR test of a booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine. Tolulope Adeleru-Balogun is joined on Business Edge by Denford Mutashu, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwean Retailers to deliberate on the development, the impact of the closure and the roadmap moving forward as the Zimbabwe borders reopen after two years.
Nearly 50% of Zimbabwe’s total imports come from South Africa. This volume was severely affected by the border closure, especially as the country had had a pre-COVID debt crisis and resultant inflation. When asked if Zimbabwe could have avoided closing the border due to its intense need for trade and revenue, Mr Motashu says it was the right decision despite the strain on its economy. “For example, about seven million people travel between South Africa and Zimbabwe using the land borders each month. There’s also a large volume of informal trade in and around these borders.” This continuous movement meant that the spread of the coronavirus had the potential to wreak more havoc than was possible if it was shut down. Fortunately, shutting the borders helped Zimbabweans rely on locally manufactured goods and generate some revenue, which in turn is slowly but surely chipping away at its inflation.
As the border reopens, not only is Zimbabwe set to restart its trade, other countries that surround it can breathe a sigh of relief because they use those borders for their own trade as well.
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